Managing Emotional Triggers In The Porn Reboot/Recovery Process (Stress, Loneliness, And Boredom)

A candy shop indicating the allures of pornography in the face of fear, stress, boredom, and loneliness.
Pornography, like sugar, is a get-out-of-jail-free card for emotional discomfort.

Bad habits are fueled by emotional triggers, especially in cases where they conflict with individual values. Stress, loneliness, and boredom are the most commonly cited emotional triggers for pornography. Stress, loneliness, and boredom are uncomfortable, and human beings are wired to seek relief from emotional discomfort. In moments of weakness, they can drive us to act in self-destructive (or other-destructive) ways. People seeking to get free from a pornography habit or addiction do well by monitoring their emotional states and taking remedial action, as needed, during the porn reboot/recovery process.

Learning how to manage emotional stress in the form of anger, fear, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and depression starts by planning ahead. If I know I have a long day ahead of me, I may schedule in breaks, exercise, recreation, or social activity with friends. This is an example of being proactive. How we react to emotional states in the moment is also of the essence. Life is dynamic; we don’t always know how we’re going to feel, let alone that we cannot predict various contingencies and “change of plans” that happen everyday. When I notice the onset of stress, I may begin to slow down. I may go spend time outside or with friends (after work or school). I may take a break from that project I was hoping to get ahead on.

Managing emotional triggers is about being intentional rather than letting things take shape with no deliberate effort on our part. The sheer presence of a porn habit/addiction is evidence that autopilot mode will not yield the desired results.

Stress In The Porn Reboot/Recovery Process

Stress, according to Elizabeth Scott, PhD, can be defined as “any type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain. Stress is your body’s response to anything that requires attention or action.” Not all stress is bad. Working out, for example, is a kind of stress that, when done in moderation, makes us stronger. The same is true of fasting. In addition, a controlled measure of emotional stress enables us to grow psychologically. Imagine if we experienced no conflict ever. Our ability to process future conflict would be severely impaired, and we might fold at the slightest adversity.

The effects of stress..
Stress is a factor of every area of life, including a pornography habit or addiction. (Source: Alamy)

That said, the stress that grows and develops is temporary in nature. The subject experiences a stressor, like fear, they process it, and they become stronger for it. However, many people are chronically stressed out due to past traumas, current stress triggers, and anxiety over the future. Chronic stress, unlike its temporary counterpart, can do a number on physical and mental health. As per above, it is necessary to be proactive (planning ahead) and reactive (adapting to the moment) in order to deal with stress in a constructive way. When we are intentional about stress management, we relieve stress in a manner consistent with our values and consistent with our medium and long-term interests.

Loneliness In The Porn Reboot/Recovery Process

According to Verywell Mind, loneliness is “a state of mind linked to wanting human contact but feeling alone.” Some people suffer from chronic loneliness whereas most people feel lonely at least some of the time. Loneliness isn’t reserved to people who have few friends or social relationships. Loneliness is a feeling, not an objective reality. Just as it is possible to feel lonely in a crowd, it is possible to feel lonely when surrounded by family and friends.

Loneliness is a form of stress, and like all stress, it is uncomfortable. People, when they experience this emotion, are known to overeat, consume drugs, or watch pornography. The lonely mind craves connection, but will often settle for anything that makes it feel better.

Managing feelings of loneliness is critical during the porn reboot/recovery process. Choosing to spend time with our friends over our phones and prioritizing relationships over solitary hobbies, projects, and pursuits can go a long way. At least, this is what has worked for me. Typically, if we are getting nothing out relationally, that is because we are putting nothing in.

Boredom In The Porn Reboot/Recovery Process

There is an old saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground.” Boredom happens when we do not feel stimulated by our environment. According to Art Markman, PhD, from Psychology Today, “Boredom is unpleasant. It can make you angry and frustrated. It can also influence your behavior in negative ways. Bored people are prone to overeat, for example.” Boredom, like loneliness, is a kind of stress. In the smartphone era, we like to think of boredom as a thing of the past. However, just because we are engaged in an activity, that does not mean our boredom has been resolved. Engaging in an activity mindlessly and lethargically (e.g. compulsive scrolling) is still boredom.

School and work are common triggers of boredom, which is unfortunate because they take up the lion’s share of life. When we study something we enjoy and work a job we don’t loathe, we feel stimulated. However, it isn’t always possible to make major changes in these areas, certainly not in the short-term. While we figure these things out in the long term, we can tend to our emotional state on a daily basis.

Many times, we feel that we need sexual stimulation or a sexual outlet to relieve stress, when, in reality, we really just need a physical or emotional one. Working out, stretching, spending time in nature, and hanging out with friends is something we can all do more of every day. These activities are naturally cathartic and can resolve a lot of the tension that drives people to engage in pornography and other instantly-gratifying behaviors, in spite of their negative effects.

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